Breaking Up Bundles

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The New York Times addresses Mssrs. McCain and Obama on the subject of bundling advising both should pledge to make it a priority to rein in the practice should be elected President. The Times goes a step further and says that while addressing bundling is important, full public financing of campaigns should be the ultimate goal.

Both candidates rely on bundlers for a big chunk of their campaign cash. McCain's been getting questions on money from one of his bundlers in particular:

Last week, The Washington Post disclosed that Harry Sargeant III, a prominent McCain booster in Florida and part owner of an oil-trading company with business in Iraq, had rounded up thousands of dollars in small donations from Americans of Middle Eastern origin. Many had not made political contributions before, and were of relatively modest means. The Times followed with a report that at least $50,000 of this had been solicited from a single extended family in California, the Abdullahs, by one of Mr. Sargeant’s business partners, a Jordanian named Mustafa Abu Naba’a.

McCain returned the contributions bundled by Naba'a. Meanwhile, though much has been made of Obama's success collecting small contributions he's still got bundlers out there working for him:

[D]espite the Obama campaign’s assertions that the senator relies largely on modest contributions, many of them raised on the Internet, one-third of the $340 million he has pulled in has come from donations of $1,000 or more. Most of these large donations have been collected by 500 or so bundlers, many from industries with interests in Washington, who have each raised at least $50,000.

Bundling is just the latest innovation in the big money game, and while the Times says steps towards better disclosure of these bundlers is good the best step to take to cut down on the influence of these massive sums of money is to go with full public financing.